Archive for the 'natural gas drilling' Category

Fracking, Seismic Activity Grow Hand in Hand in Mexico

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Scientists warn that large-scale fracking for shale gas planned by Mexico’s oil company Pemex will cause a surge in seismic activity in northern Mexico, an area already prone to quakes.

Experts link a 2013 swarm of earthquakes in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in the Burgos and Eagle Ford shale deposits – the latter of which is shared with the U.S. state of Texas.

Researcher Ruperto de la Garza found a link between seismic activity and fracking, a technique that involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into the well, opening and extending fractures in the shale rock to release the natural gas.

“The final result is the dislocation of the geological structure which, when it is pulverised, allows the trapped gas to escape,” the expert with the environmental and risk consultancy Gestoría Ambiental y de Riesgos told IPS from Saltillo, the capital of the northern state of Coahuila.

When the chemicals are injected “and the lutite particles [sedimentary rock] break down, the earth shifts,” he said. “It’s not surprising that the earth has been settling.”

De la Garza drew up an exhaustive map of the seismic movements in 2013 and the gas-producing areas.

His findings, published on Mar. 22, indicated a correlation between the seismic activity and fracking.

Statistics from Mexico’s National Seismological Service show an increase in intensity and frequency of seismic activity in Nuevo León, where at least 31 quakes between 3.1 and 4.3 on the Richter scale were registered.

Most of the quakes occurred in 2013. Of the ones registered this year, the highest intensity took place on Mar. 2-3, according to official records.”

Read more: IPS

 

Uprising Grows Against Fracking in a Surprising Part of Europe

“Do you think they’re about to have sex?”, one of the group whispers. I’m in Transylvania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of activists in balaclavas, taking turns to speculate why a car has crept to a halt close to where we are hiding out. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone”, another one says. Time to move on.

It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing an edgy game of cat and mouse as we struggle to stay one step ahead of the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us.

Another light tears round the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down, stretched out once again in the cool damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It’s going to be a long night.

In recent weeks the sleepy Saxon communities and protected forests of Sibiu county in Transylvania, have become an unlikely front for a new battleground, pitting gas exploration companies, the Romanian government and international investment firms, against a small band of environmental activists from across Romania, who are working side by side with local farmers to resist gas and oil exploration that they claim is taking place illegally on their land.

Read More: Alternet

 

Fracking Is Already Straining U.S. Water Supplies

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Every fracking job requires 2 million to 4 million gallons of water, according to the Groundwater Protection Council. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has estimated that the 35,000 oil and gas wells used for fracking consume between 70 billion and 140 billion gallons of water each year. That’s about equal, EPA says, to the water use in 40 to 80 cities with populations of 50,000 people, or one to two cities with a population of 2.5 million each.

Some of the most intensive oil and gas development in the nation is occurring in regions where water is already at a premium. A paper published last month by Ceres, a nonprofit that works on sustainability issues, looked at 25,000 shale oil and shale gas wells in operation and monitored by an industry-tied reporting website called FracFocus.

Ceres found that 47 percent of these wells were in areas “with high or extremely high water stress” because of large withdrawals for use by industry, agriculture, and municipalities. In Colorado, for example, 92 percent of the wells were in extremely high water-stress areas, and in Texas more than half were in high or extremely high water-stress areas.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Activism and the Nexus: Shaping Policy

Retrieved from GRIID.org

Activism & the Nexus: Shaping Policy

by Miles Ten Brinke

Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is studying an Energy Policy MSc at the University of Exeter on a Fulbright.

Activism is a force to be reckoned with. This simple truth is one easy to forget in the grim utilitarian realm of policy analysis. It’s a factor that depending upon your given governance structure is easy to shove off to the side as secondary. When the problems seem so big, when you’re working at a global system change the contributions of active engaged individuals can seem so small to be insignificant.

You might find yourself starting to ask brutal questions. What voice does the little guy have when the big players have such loud lobbyists? Given their diffuse and often ephemeral nature what influence can grassroots movements really have on decision makers?-So easy to do, and so damning.

Lucky for me I’ve got you folks in the Peak Water network and friends around the world constantly reminding me of this. People power can wield enormous influence, regardless of the particular creed it amplifies. In the pursuit of a truly sustainable global energy-water- climate system transition it’s these movements that give moral purpose and a groundswell of democratic legitimacy. They animate  people, engaging them in the complexities of the problem while helping them grow into change agents.

Right now across the United States there is a movement to divest public institutions from fossil fuels. In this column I’m going to highlight the efforts of the folks in the University of California pushing for such change.

As of 20 February 2013 the University of California, San Diego student government joined their fellows at the Berkeley and Santa Barbara campuses in passing a resolution to fully divest its portfolio from fossil fuel funds. Equal parts inspired by the 350.org call to action and the success of the anti-Apartheid divestments of the 80s and 90s the movement is as much about a moral revolution as climate change mitigation. The college campaign in California has largely been coordinated by the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) which coordinates environmental actions by students across the state.

At Berkeley the charge is being led by senior Katie Hoffman, her tireless efforts leading the team at Cal through their unsuccessful campaign in 2011 to divest the UC from coal companies all the way through to the current momentum of the day. That is, of UC Berkeley’s student government setting a vital new precedent by voting to divest. Katie is an old friend; we first met as transfer students to the Society & Environment B.S. programme at UC Berkeley a few years back.

I’ve watched her work, witnessed her passion and drive first hand. I have seen what she and all the other activists in the CSSC have accomplished.  I can see what they’re capable of. Expect more big things to come! To have been there at the start and to be here now is an incredible privelege, even from across the Atlantic. Katie and all the other folks on the ground across California and the whole United States pushing forward with divestment are a true and continued inspiration.

Some would scoff at the arrogant naivety of students, denying them even the pleasure of small victories. Such folks need only look at the million dollar funds at the disposal of UC student governments to see how wrong they are. This is a targeted movement, with specific and modular goals. Across the country they’re succeeding and their campaigns are growing.

All of this has profound implications for not only how we concieve of each and every sutainability nexus but the pathways we choose to realize them.  To bear witness to, even join, movements such as these opens your eyes to the possibility of a democratised and decentralised (both of technologies and governance) transition. That is, of a radical departure from the status quo and viable in a multitude of different manifestations. Yes, activism is but one complex piece but  what a vital part yet!  

The choice we face is not simply between different technical and economic structures, so too is it a resolution on how we are to conduct ourselves-a new order to things. It’s about governance, and strategic decision making. Grassroots organizing, direct action, advocacy and all the other forms must orient towards this truth. From the ground up and back down again how we choose must be reshaped. In radical, chaotic little steps we may yet solve the riddle of the sustainability nexus.

Activism is about policy, an imperfect and fragile evolution.

~ Miles on Water

More Threats From Fracking: Radioactive Waste

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it was embarking on a year-long study of radioactivity in by-products from oil and natural gas development.

But findings and any action from the study may come too late for people like Portage, Pennsylvania resident Randy Moyer, who is suffering from a flurry of health problems he believes are the result of radiation exposure from his work transporting fracking wastefluids. Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times reports:

Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

US to become ‘net energy exporter’

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“Environmentalists and some analysts, however, caution that jubilant predictions from a country that consumes some 25 percent of the world’s oil will run into environmental constraints including global warming and a lack of fresh water.

“There is no question that fresh water is going to be a serious concern… the water crisis will be the next big crisis people will have to confront everywhere in the world in the next few decades,” Pierce, the energy lawyer and professor, said. “Limits on fresh water, to a certain extent, will be the determining limit on fracking capability… how serious a limit is hard to say.”

Extracting gas from one well through fracking takes about five million gallons of water, the equivalent of between 800 and 1,300 truckloads, said energy consultant Faeth. Over its lifespan, an average well produces more than 4 billion cubic feet of gas equivilent – enough energy to power about 16,000,000 homes for one day. Mixed with chemicals, much of the water ends up contaminated after being used in the fracking process. One well will often need to be fracked up to 18 times, drastically increasing water contamination.”

“The industry is not that transparent; we don’t know exactly how much water is being used in different places,” Lorne Stockman, research director of advocacy group Oil Change International, told Al Jazeera. “Public discomfort with the fracking boom is growing, especially in states like Ohio… I can’t say if it will come to a head.”

Read more: Aljazeera

Is Fracking Safe? Debate on Controversial Natural Gas Drilling Technique as NY Moratorium May Expire

Photo retrieved from: www.gaslandthemovie.com

“The controversial use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” that is behind the country’s natural gas boom has come under scrutiny in the new Hollywood drama, “Promised Land,” and met stiff resistance in New York state, where a four-year moratorium against the process could soon expire. Supporters say fracking is essential to U.S. energy independence, a way to revitalize depressed rural areas with new mining jobs and gas projects. But opponents warn that hundreds of millions of gallons of chemically treated water used in the process will pollute drinking water supplies and agricultural fields. New research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado say methane — a potent greenhouse gas — may be escaping from gas sites at much higher rates than previously thought.”

Read more: Democracy Now

South Africa Lifts Fracking Moratorium; Citizens Alarmed By U.S. Fracking Examples

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“The decision to end the moratorium in South Africa, which may have the fifth largest supply of natural gas in the world, has ignited another phase of opposition to fracking, as citizens demand more research and public education.

The Karoo, an arid farming region in the Eastern Cape of the country is where most of the natural gas is located. People concerned about how fracking affects farming and the water supply have raised red flags about the ANC’s ties to Royal Dutch Shell, the largest stakeholder in the gas reserves, which has other political parties in South Africa crying foul.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Some Fracking Critics Use Bad Science

Photo retrieved from: www.activistpost.com

“In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.

For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren’t being confirmed by monitoring, either.

And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don’t acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.

“The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science” on either side, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor studying groundwater contamination who has been praised and criticized by both sides.”

Read more: Associated Press

 

How the Hydro-Fracking Industry is Destroying Communities

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirstnews.com

“The Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore, PA is under major threat of eviction due to plans to build a 3 million gallon PER DAY water withdrawal site at the property to service natural gas drilling. Beginning June 1st,  Aqua America, a company partnered with Penn Virginia Resources (PVR) wants to begin their work, but first they need to displace over thirty families in the park’s tightly-knit community.

Residents of Riverdale, joined by supporters, are blockading access to a mobile home community that is facing imminent displacement at the hands of Aqua America.  Aqua America supplies natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale region. The blockade was launched to halt Aqua America’s plans to begin construction of a withdrawal facility for water from the Susquehanna River to be used in fracking operations. Aqua America recently purchased the entire Riverdale mobile home unit to be used as a withdrawal site, and has issued lease termination notices to 32 Riverdale families. Construction was set to begin on June 1, but supporters of Riverdale mobile home park believe the blockade and protest kept the company from starting the project last week. It is unclear what additional steps Aqua America will take to displace those families who are choosing to remain. Aqua America refuses to sit down and negotiate in good faith despite repeated written attempts by the residents’ representation and advocates.”

Read more: Earth First!